Talk Story / Biggest Town Swell of the Summer

By Guy Hagi Photos gOnzo

A solid south swell peaked July 14th firing up the Big Bowl of Ala Moana to cap off a great start to the summer season. Double overhead sets rolled in consistently with decent wind conditions—although, as is normally the case, the crowd was oftentimes thick and fierce.

My son and I were lucky enough to catch a small window with a light, generous crowd right around lunchtime. Mikey O’Shaughnessy was paddling in, and as we crossed paths, he told me that our timing was perfect with the crowd thinning out. He was right: the normally overbooked lineup was a bit sparse, an uncommon sight at the Big Bowl. I think most of the insatiable crew was waiting for the afternoon peak. In fact, a few sets late in the day closed out the Ala Wai channel prompting the National Weather Service to post a rare High Surf Warning.

This is my son Luke’s second summer of surfing Ala Moana, so the July swell was his first-ever session at legit Big Bowl. He was mentally ready to charge, but I have to admit: I was a bit anxious for him. The Sunday swell was a good introduction for Luke because as Big Bowl swells go, it wasn’t the most ferocious, but it still had plenty of size with enough heft to rough you up if you made a mistake.

Kainoa Kanahele and his 14-year-old son, Kainoa Jr., were out as well, so Luke had a bit of company. Both Luke and Kainoa Jr. caught a few nuggets thanks to the generosity of uncles like Mike Akima, Ronnie Ongos, and Kekoa Cazimero. It was also good for the kids to witness the talent of the Pipe regulars that had become temporary “Townies.” You know the waves are good when former world champ Derek Ho, Mikey Bruneau, and Flynn Novak show up!

Luke snagged a few waves, and got burned on a couple. He even got caught inside where some 8 footers unloaded on his head, but he survived. He also caught the wave of his life and couldn’t stop talking about it for days! As for the old weatherman, I got lucky and a handful of waves fell into my lap. Although, as a father, seeing Luke get the stoke that I know all too well was much more satisfying.


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